A Look at Delbarton Debate

Forensics Battles On Despite Pandemic


Alexander Sun, Staff Writer

Last season, the debate team and I were preparing for states and a chance to qualify for Nationals. We were hot off successful tournament performances in January and February. Then, everything changed.

The coronavirus pandemic hit the debate team hard and forced us to miss states, and the Tournament of Champions and Nationals went virtual. Fortunately, a global pandemic did not stop the debate team from achieving success, as Pierce Munsey and Sachin Gulati competed at the Tournament of Champions, and the duo of William Li and Connor Teehan placed 13th at Nationals. After the season ended, the team dealt with the departure of two coaches, Mr. Lajuan Foust and Mr. Brendan Dimmig. As a result, we went into this school year with a new coach and a virtual debate season.

The transition to virtual debate was hard for everyone, including me. The most memorable and exciting part of going to debate tournaments was the opportunity to spend time with your brothers at hotels in exotic cities and college campuses across the country. In previous seasons, we were able to go out to restaurants to eat, or we would order takeout and room service. For example, one of my fondest debate memories was at the Blake Tournament last season. We were given the privilege of competing in a hotel the entire time, and we celebrated William Li’s birthday at a hibachi restaurant. In addition, in between debate rounds, we all had the ability to watch college football games and also just have better social interactions. Now, the debate team has to mainly interact on tournament weekends through laptop screens.

It was also quite an adjustment to debate online. In-person debates allowed us to better engage with the opponents and the judges. Eye contact and body posture are no longer factors in debate rounds, and we also have to use facetimes to talk to our debate partners. Wi-fi connections and lag are also potential obstacles to competing online.

However, one positive out of the situation is that we were able to compete at various tournaments across the country that we might not have attended in person. For example, we would not have gone to the University of Kentucky Tournament if it wasn’t online. Instead, we would have only competed at the Yale Tournament in September.

Overall, even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the debate team has had plenty of success this season to date. For example, William Li and Connor Teehan, along with Eric Moldoveanu and I, went far into elimination rounds at the University of Kentucky tournament. In addition, the novices this year have started the year off well, as Zeke Ehrenberg and Suhaas Valiveti won their tournament together at Phillipsburg. William Li and Connor Teehan continued their debate success by winning the Peach State Classic, and Eric Moldoveanu and Sachin Gulati reached the semifinals at SF Roosevelt. Finally, heading into Thanksgiving break, Eric Moldoveanu and I are halfway qualified to the Tournament of Champions after reaching double-octofinals at the Glenbrook’s Tournament, the largest and most prestigious tournament of the season. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the debate team is persevering, and we are looking to continue our success for the rest of the school year.